Cumpston Engraving Works

Cyclopedia of Western Australia, 1912 – 1913
RICHARD STANLEY CUMPSTON, proprietor of the City Electric Engraving Works, Hay Street, Perth, is a son of Mr. L. P. Cumpston, of this city, and was born at Liverpool, England, on February 23, 1873. He came to Australia with his parent when twelve years of age and attended the Echuca Grammar School, Victoria, for several years. In 1890 he entered the office of a lithographic artist, and subsequently became articled to Mr. C(harles). G(eorge). Roeszler, the proprietor of the leading engraving works in Melbourne. He came to Western Australia in 1897 and joined Mr. Robert Manning in partnership in the Commercial Agency Company, but eventually relinquishing this connection proceeded to the Goldfields as representative for the Brownhill Great Southern, the Railway Venture, and the Britannia Mining Companies. He also took a personal part in prospecting for a hundred miles around Kalgoorlie with more or less success, and in conjunction with Mr. H. M. Deakin took part in the opening up of the Collie Coal Mines. This enterprise, begun with a staff of seven hands, increased to such an extent that at the time of Mr. Cumpston’s departure there were over 300 men at work in the mines, and this Company supplied the Government with the first 360,000 tons of coal ever mined in this State. For a time Mr. Cumpston carried on business at Kalgoorlie as auctioneer and produce merchant, but eventually returning to Perth he established his present concern, the City Electric Engraving Works, and has conducted it successfully ever since. The business comprises a great variety of operations and turns out excellent work in brass plates, stencils, brass, steel, and rubber stamps, medals, memorial brasses, raised-letter plates, wood and metal type blocks, stock brands, and many other articles in continual demand in professional, commercial, and pastoral circles. Mr. Cumpston has taken a leading part in the advancement of the various districts where he has resided, and was a member of the Hospital Board at Collie and Trustee of the same institution. He gave great assistance to the municipal authorities at Kalgoorlie, showing keen interest in the various details of their work for the district. He is also a. member of the Commercial Travellers’ Club, and for recreation resorts to boating on the River Swan. In the year 1911 he was married to Ella, daughter of Mr. James Gibney, printer, of Western Australia.



The lure of adventure, the seed of which is so firmly Implanted In the hearts of all possessing, or, it should be said, endowed with the sturdy spirit of the pioneer, induced Mr. R. Stanley Cumpston, the well-known engraver, to resign his comfortable post in the Melbourne Art Gallery (which he had held for seven years) to play his part in the building up of the destinies of Western Australia. In the early nineties the romance inseparable from the discovery of gold drew him irresistibly to the goldfields in those stirring days, when a stout heart, grit and pertinacity were essential for a man to emerge from the game holding the honours in his hands. Mr. Cumpston can recall in an entertaining way many happenings which have been lost sight of during the passing of time. Such famous places as Kanowna (White Feather), Menzies, Leonora, and Laverton were unknown, and would have remained so were it not for those hardy old-timers who responded to the lure to go further out under conditions which would appal less courageous men. Sun-scorched bones testified to the heavy toll death took of these intrepid adventurers. Mr. Cumpston met many interesting people during these early days. He recalls his meeting with the present President of the United States of America, Mr. Hoover, then a young mining engineer in Kalgoorlie. The Palace Hotel at the corner of Hannan-street and the Boulder-road was then in course of construction. In the company of Clive Innes (son of Judge Sir James Innes), James Price, of Queensland, and Bill Pollard, of N.S.W., Mr. Cumpston set out on a perilous journey into the unknown in search of fresh discoveries. Travelling N.E. for many weeks through country with an unenviable reputation for scarcity of water, the party arrived in the vicinity of Alice Springs in Central Australia, where they came on another adventurous spirit, the famous.. explorer Carr-Boyd, who, in Mr. Cumpston’s opinion, was a remarkable man and a true Empire-builder. Another Goldfields identity was Ross Grant and Tassie Connor, the man who led a procession thirty miles into Kalgoorlie on that famous occasion of the visit of John Forrest during the “10ft.” regulations. More stirring events of local goldfields interest was the hold-up in 1899 of the pay cart on the Boulder-road, when the robber, armed with a rifle, shot the horse dead and demanded the cash. The paymaster handed out a bag of silver first, which the bushranger, in his hurry, thought was gold; for without waiting for anything more he mounted his horse and galloped off, leaving another bag containing a large sum in notes and gold. Another exploit was successfully carried out at the top end of Hannan-street, when an armed man held up a party in broad daylight and decamped with £700. Both of these robberies remained undetected. Later on Mr. Cumpston travelled to what is now known as Collie when that famous coalfield was merely a water-hole in the bush in which coal had been encountered. With a Mr. H. M. Deakin he opened up and developed the collieries, at which time the place was known as Coalville. In twelve months’ time 300 men were at work delving Collie’s treasure from the earth; and in a little while they signed with Mr. Davies, the then General Traffic Manager of the Railways, the first contract for a supply of Collie coal. The first discovery of tin at Greenbushes is another of Mr. Cumpston’s recollections. At first this metal was regarded as metallic iron; but when Mr. Cumpston, who is an authority on metals, took some samples from this new find to his friend, Clive Innis, in Kalgoorlie, it was found to be a fine example of ruby tin, the best of its kind. Within two months the whole of the Greenbushes field was pegged out. F or some time Mr. Cumpston was an active member of the Collie Road Board, and also held the post of Trustee of the Collie Hospital and the Col!ie Miners’ Institute. He is a firm believer in the future prosperity of this State, and has invested extensively in City property. He is now carrying on the business of an engraver at 918 Hay-street, Perth.

A study of TROVE and the WA Post Office Directories indicates that Richard Cumpston started the City Electric Engraving Works in 1902 with Cumpston’s Engraving Works appearing to have operated concurrently.

Cumpston's 1929-1930 price list
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